Cataloguing the Archive

Cataloguing the Archive

An interview with Sue Turner a cataloguing expert from BBC Archives

Sue Turner, who heads up the BBC's Cataloguing department, explains why the BBC needs to keep detailed records of its programmes.


The Team

The cataloguers are professional librarians. Most have been to library college or to film archiving school, and have a very good understanding of film and librarianship.

(John Seacroft a Cataloguer explains)
"Today I'm doing a programme called 'The Seven Ages of Rock'. It's about the British indie music scene, starting in about 1983 with The Smiths. It goes through the Stone Roses/Madchester era, through Oasis, Britpop and then the present day. It's a very interesting programme. It uses a lot of archive footage and interesting interviews with the people who were involved in the bands at the time.
(film clip)
For me, because I was growing up in the mid-'90s, it kind of captures the moment very well, I think. First of all we view it, on DVD in this case, and make a very detailed shot list, kind of shot by shot. For every shot we'll cover what type of shot it is, whether it's a close shot, a wide shot, zoom in or zoom out. And then whether it's BBC or whether someone else owns the rights to it. You need to be able to concentrate very hard and you need to have a close eye for detail.

This programme I'm doing is 90 minutes long and it'll probably take about a day just to actually view it, because it's got very tightly edited material in it. So you'd be literally stopping and pausing every three or four seconds in this case. To actually catalogue it onto the database would probably take about three days in this case."

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